Gabon was mapped by the French from the late 1940s in the Cartes d’Afrique Centrale series at the standard scales of 1:200,000 and 1:50,000. The first 1:200,000 sheet appeared in 1948 and the first 1:50,000 in 1956. After independence in 1960, French mapping cooperation continued, initially through the IGN center at Brazzaville and later with the Service Topographique et du Cadastre, Libreville, and a number of new maps appeared during the 1960s.
In 1983, the Institut National de Cartographie (INC) was established, and assumed responsibility for topographic, planimetric and cadastral mapping. The present aim is to complete the 1:50,000 scale map series and to bring the 1:200,000 scale mapping up to date.
Several new sheets of République Gabonaise 1:200,000 were published in the 1980s, but some of the older sheets are still in provisional sketch map form, and, according to the INC catalogue, some of the new color editions are now available only in monochrome. In the south of the country radar imagery has formed a base for several sheets. The full specification sheets in this series have 40 m interval contours and are printed in four colors. The projection is UTM, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid. Sheets each cover one-degree of longitude and latitude.
There has been considerable progress towards the completion of the République Gabonaise 1:50,000 scale series, with large blocks of mapping completed in the 1980s and 1990s, and more in preparation. This map also is in four colours, in UTM projection, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid, but with contours at 20 m interval. A standard sheet covers 15 minutes of latitude and longitude, so that 16 sheets are required to cover the area of a 1:200,000 scale sheet. Nearly three-quarters of the country is now covered by this series.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Gabon exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (6 sheets, complete coverage, published 1968-1985); 1:500,000 (11 sheets, complete coverage, published 1980-1983) and 1:200,000 (2 sheets, primarily northern coverage, published in 1979). These products are available in paper, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
Geological mapping is the responsibility of the Direction Générale des Mines et de la Géologie (DGMG), Libreville, and is carried out in association with the French Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), who also have an office in Libreville. A 1:1,000,000 geological map was published by BRGM in 1966. Following a mineral resources assessment in 1979, it was decided to use SLAR imagery to produce a national geological map series at 1:200,000 scale, and eventually a new 1:1,000,000 map. High-resolution imagery flown in 1981 was interpreted and field checked, and supplementary geophysical surveys were carried out by the end of 1984. Publication of the 1:200,000 scale sheets commenced in 1990 and is still in progress.
Soil mapping has been carried out by the French Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM). Two 1:2,000,000 scale maps with an explanatory text are available, one showing soil types and the other, soil resources in terms of fertility, drainage, organic content and texture. A series of 1:200,000 scale soil maps was also started and six sheets issued between 1969 and 1976. The work was to be continued by the Institut de Recherche Agronomique et Forestieres (IRAF).
A national atlas was prepared by the Laboratoire National de Cartographie, Libreville, and appeared in three instalments in the late 1970s. Most maps published in the work were at a scale of 1:2,000,000.
INC has published a large number of city plans. Most were prepared in the 1980s and are available as diazo prints, with scales ranging from 1:2,000 to 1:20,000. There is partial cover of Libreville at 1:2,000 in 11 sheets and complete coverage at 1:5,000 in 22 sheets, edited between 1986 and 1990. For six towns – Franceville, Lambaréné, Lastoursville, Libreville, Port-Gentil and Oyem there are contoured tourist maps published in color at 1:10,000 to 1:20,000 scales.
General tourist maps of the country have been published by IGN, INC, Éditions BEPG, Libreville and Institut de Recherche Agronomique et Forestières (IRAF).